Line & Color, ii


Another picture of the outline:

The first underlayers are begun: a lemon yellow, which is a yellow with a greenish cast to it, and a warmish yellow, one closer to orange than green. The idea is that the underlying lemon yellow will aim toward a cooler green, and, obviously, the underlying warmish yellow, will aim toward a warmish green. Two separate photos are provided – the first with the lemon yellow applied, then the orangish yellow.

As you can see in the next photo, the warmer yellow – I think it is a cadmium – has been added to the outline drawing. Sometimes there was more pigment in the brush, sometimes less. The intensity of the yellow varies. There is a definite difference between the two yellows. Some of the leaves have the lemon yellow for the sub-painting, but most have the warmer color.

I don’t know if this is “traditional” in color or approach, but it should be fun to see the results!


Line & Color, i

Today, I am just writing off the top of my head.

I have been working on a handmade paper, experimenting with it as far as color, line, and ability to withstand wetness in the form of washes and in the form of repeated layers of color.

So . . . the next picture was a free-hand outlining of chrysanthemums, trying to create lined areas with logical beginnings and ends, and then painted with the saiboku. I think the results are much better. Remember the coloring books of your childhood? Staying inside the lines was “good” – and actually, with “meticulous” painting, staying in the lines is “good” too!  And, it was fairly easy to do. I filled the lines in with mixtures of colors, in one layer, except for a couple of small areas where you will see areas of orange in the green of the leaves. I recalled, last minute, something I read about applying multiple thin layers of colors, to gain a translucency not possible with a single layer of paint. Thus, I dabbed in a bit of orange, while the paper and paint had not yet dried. I like the results.

And this leads to today’s doings, which I hope to photograph along the way. It may be done today, but as the day is dampish, and other things are going, it may be a project of some duration.

To begin, I return to the chrysanthemums. Ink ground, I did the outlines, some with darker ink, some with lighter ink. What I plan to do is to do thin layers of paint, and then photograph the picture before beginning the next layer of painting. Never having done this before, I will be looking to some texts, such as Fritz van Briessen’s The Way of the Brush: Painting Techniques of China and Japan. Others will be mentioned as used.

The Great American Yeast Starter vs. Smack Pack Experiment

Yeast starters are widely advocated by homebrewers for all batches. The purported benefits include faster starts, quicker finishes, and more complete fermentations. This is a test to see if these benefits can be counted on for beers of normal strength and if the results are worth the additional work.

Yesterday, as planned, I made ten gallons of beer, which went into two separate fermenters. Both fermenters got exactly the same wort out of the same boiler, and both got the same yeast strain using two smack packs that were manufactured on the same day. OG was 1.056, which is toward the upper end of the range recommended by Wyeast for straight pitching of a smack pack. The date on the smack packs was March 3, several weeks prior to brew day. While I have occasionally found smack packs at my FLHBS that were only manufactured several days prior to purchase, several weeks seems pretty normal. Jamil’s starter calculator tells me that a smack pack of this age should have about 81% viability.

One fermenter got a smack pack that had been smacked at the start of the brew day. By pitching time about six hours later, it was good and puffy. I poured this directly into the fermenter and attached an airlock.

The other smack pack, though, I had smacked the night before and used to make a starter. I used 150g of light DME in 1500mL of water, boiled in a 2000mL flask and then cooled. I pitched the smack pack into this and placed the flask on my home made stir plate, where it spun until brew day was complete – about 20 hours. The entire contents of the flask were added to the fermenter, and an airlock attached.

This morning, about 16 hours after pitching, I checked the fermenters, which have been resting in my ferment fridge at 65 degrees. Both fermenters have a good solid inch of kraeusen, and both airlocks are bubbling actively. It seems like the airlock on the fermenter that got the starter may be bubbling a little more frequently than the other.

So, did one fermenter start more quickly than the other? Without having checked the fermenters hourly all night, I can’t say definitively that one started before the other. However, the lag time on both was short enough that they are well into high kraeusen the next morning. I would feel comfortable with the start time in either case.

I will continue to check the fermenters daily, and will report back on the questions of quicker completion and lower FG.

Fundamentals of Orchid Painting – Notes from The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting, ii

Flower Petals, Flower Stems, and “Dotting the Heart”
Petals & Stems

According to The Mustard Seed Garden, each flower should have five petals. The smaller, narrow petals curl and the larger ones are broad and straight.  Stamens are indicated by dark dots of ink. When the flowers face the viewer, the dark dots are in the center. When the flower is viewed from the back, the stamens are seen on either side of the middle petal. When stamens are on the side, the flower is being viewed from the side.

As illustrated above, the flowers are in different positions – facing toward you, away from you, as well as to the side. In addition to different positions, the flowers are also seen in different degrees of development, from new flowers to older ones more fully opened.

Painting the orchid petals is a lot more difficult than it looks! A written description is not the best, but let me try:

  • Hold the brush upright,filled with light to medium ink.
  • If starting at the center of the flower, start with very gentle pressure, and then increase it slowly as you curve the brush a little, to curve the petal. Near the end of the petal, raise the brush up, and back over the petal you have just painted.
  • If starting at the the end of the petal and moving toward the heart of the flower, begin with pressing down and then curving toward the center, raising the brush as you move until the tip glides up off the paper in a gentle arc. You may want to retreat a little over the narrow part as you lift your brush.

Painting the stems is rather like dancing the waltz – a dip, a sway. If you look at the picture above, you will see that the stems have a bit of a bulge at either end. This is done with an upright brush put straight down on the paper, a little pause before moving it, and then a slight pause with light pressure at the end before lifting the brush from the paper. Do it to the beat of a waltz – a one, two, and a three – or to the equivalent of ONE (push brush down) two (pause and begin lifting brush and moving toward the end of the stem) THREE (push down, and lift, retreating over the painted area).

The fact is, describing how to use a brush for sumi-e is difficult. The only way to do it. If you have never taken a class where you can watch the instructor, the next best thing can be a video. There are a lot of good videos on You Tube and elsewhere on the net. Here are a few that came up when I put in “orchid painting” on Google, and chose video.

In particular, this one is good for how to paint the flowers themselves:

The painter is listed in YouTube as “yanghaiying” if you care to do a search for her.

Dotting the Heart

To “dot the heart” of the orchid is to bring the flower to bloom. To do this, dark ink is used. A brush that is relatively dry is also best, as then the ink will not bleed into the brush’s bristles nor onto the paper. Waiting until the petals have dried also helps.

To create the stroke, I begin with the brush upright, push the tip down gently, and then curve and lift the bush up at the same time. Observe some videos to see how the artist moves the brush – and watch it over and over to observe the movement of the artist, how the brush bristles are manipulated, how the brush is turned. Be patient – that little flick! is tricky! Once you accomplish that, you will be able to create some incredibly beautiful dots.

As can be seen in the above picture, there are all kinds of dots. Some begin with downward pressure, rise and push down again. Others are a dot, with a flick and a turn. Some curve, some are straighter, some are dots which are curvy – pressure and a turn – before the brush is slowly lifted up from the paper and turned as it leaves.

Just remember – it takes practice. People don’t “just paint”! Practicing all these little steps, leaves, petals, dots, and lines will give you the skill, knowledge and dexterity to create a seemingly simple painting.

Putting all these steps together will give you a lovely orchid!


Ah, the power of the state!  I’ve been working nearly every day in a desire to finish up the curriculum for the program I teach.  The state requested it, prior to renewing our permit.

My hours have been cut to 32 / week for the Spring term.  I have been working more than my allocated hours on the critter, at least it is getting done.  Until last night.

After 5 days (yes, that includes last Sunday), with many days going into the double-digits, I finally said enough!

My brain died.  And I said, “It is good!”

I lay on the couch until 11:30 p.m. last night, watching the DVD of the first season of “Damages.”  Do I like it?  Don’t know.  Seems sort of like a wanna-be “Boston Legal,” but without the humor.  Result?  A mystery which sort of intrigues, but not a lot of buy-in or sympathy for the characters.  There is the desire, though, to find out who all these evil people are, and that is where it is for now.

I am usually in bed at 9:00, and up at 5:30 at the latest.  Even today.  But I have a wierd thing – the later I go to bed, the earlier I get up.  This morning – 4:30.  Not something I would like to happen on a work day.  Fridays, now, are non-working days, unless I choose.  Up I came, and back to bed for a very nice nap at 9:30 a.m. until just after 11:00 a.m.

So, here I sit, drinking the second cup of coffee, knitting a pair of really cheery socks, in a patterned yarn sock yarn from Berocco – teals and greens and rather scrumptious colors.  Mindless knitting with delicious colors is great entertainment value.

And then I thought of knitting needles.  The self-indulgent moi gave in to deciding to order size 2, Signature Needle Arts, stilletto DPNs.  $45.00 for a set of 4 six-inch sock needles.  Will I like them?  Don’t know!  My favorite size for sock knitting (with sock yarn) is size 1 1/2 by Crystal Palace.  I knit loosely.  So, I chose size 2, in a cheery bright red.  When will they arrive?  They say 7-10 days for 5.99 shipping.  Let’s see when they get here, and then give them a test drive.

I don’t need more needles, but I am sure curious about these!  I like metal needles, but am allergic to nickel.  As long as I don’t touch the metal of the Addi turbos, I am okay.  All I get is a kind of tingling on my fingertips.  I love my old aluminum needles, and my bamboo, and my wooden ones.  So, let’s see what the needle fairy shall bring – and how soon!

And because, like Alice, I cannot see the value of a book without pictures, here are some pictures of the above-mentioned socks.  A blog without pictures is (methinks) also worthless.

BTW, I knit inside out, and am now decreasing for the toe. I’ll get a right-side-out picture later.